Thursday, March 26, 2009

Writerly Stuff: Learning to Laugh at Myself

A blog entry came to my attention this week because it contained the intriguing title: “Lisa Marie Wilkinson is proud of herself.” My first thought was, “They must be referring to the actress Lisa Marie Wilkinson. I wonder what she's done and why she's proud?” I clicked on the link and went to the Harriet Klausner Appreciation Society blog (I will refer to it as the “HKAS” going forward) only to discover that the post referred to me. In a rather snide, head-shaking, "isn't she pathetic?" way.

I will confess to being a bit over zealous in the promotion department because my debut novel was just released and I feel I need to do more in the way of promo because I don’t have one of the big NY houses behind me (although not to be construed as a complaint against Medallion Press because they have been absolutely wonderful to me). But, the bad economy is hitting all aspects of retail, and book sales have not escaped the impact. So, when good reviews and accolades started to come in, I’ve tried to mention them at every opportunity.

The HKAS blog picked up a post I’d made on the Romantic Times message boards announcing a blog guest spot I was doing and the associated prize package the blog owner was offering. I’ve been a regular member of the RT boards for a long time (long before I had a book published), so I’m very comfortable with posting there, and the people who frequent the boards are tolerant of my promotion activities and have been wonderfully supportive. My goal in writing the post was to attract as much interest in both the blog contest and my debut book as possible, so I posted the following:

"My debut historical romance novel "Fire at Midnight" was released by Medallion Press on March 1. To celebrate, I will be the guest blogger on TJ Bennett's blog on Wednesday, March 11. Please come visit me at tomorrow as I share the "story behind the story" of "Fire at Midnight." Enter a comment and be eligible to win a wonderful prize basket! TJ will be giving away a basket of autographed books, and the basket will include a $20 gift certificate for She’ll also give away a signed copy of her critically acclaimed historical romance, THE LEGACY, and a signed copy of my debut novel, "Fire at Midnight."

"Fire at Midnight" was a finalist or winner of more than 40 writing contests in its unpublished form, including the Maryland Writers Association Novel Contest and a Bronze Award from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. The novel was recently awarded a 5 star review by Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner, a 4 star rating by Romantic Times Book Reviews Magazine, and a 5 Blue Ribbon Rating from Romance Junkies."

Okay, yes, I managed to fit in all I could about awards my book had received because I’m trying to figure out how to make my book stand out. That’s what you do when you promote. At least, that’s what I thought promotion was intended to do. What I didn’t realize was that my post probably made me sound like a preening, obnoxious, egocentric pain-in-the butt. Now, people who know me personally will assure you I’m not (just ask my Mom!), but when I saw the HKAS blog, I realized how people might view it, and after my initial dismayed sputter of surprise, my feelings have ebbed into a blend of embarrassment tempered with amusement.

The HKAS blog exists for and is maintained by a group of people who have had ongoing issues with the quality/quantity of reviews by Harriet Klausner. Pity the poor fool (me) who happened to note that my book had received a 5-star review from HK because it made me a prime target for this group, and hence the “Lisa Marie Wilkinson is Proud of Herself” heckling.

The following are comments made by members of the HKAS blog group in response to the post (this is not a public blog in the sense that anyone can post a comment. Only “members” are allowed to post):

Posted by Malleus:
"Shall we laugh or shall we cry ? :-) Well. Congratulations of course, but this review from Harriet Klausner... these Klausner reviews aren't what they used to be anymore!"

Posted by Deborah Hern:
"That's sad. Especially since the romance reading community has a pretty strong online presence, and are thus likely to know that HK is a huge fraud. Using her as a 'see how great my book is' isn't likely to impress them."

I sensed condescension in the comments, but I wasn’t too disturbed because they didn’t seem to object to the RT rating or the Romance Junkies rating (perhaps because they have no qualms where these reviewers are concerned). I can’t help but wonder if the Deborah Hern who posted on HKAS is the same Deborah Hern who writes reviews for The Romance Readers Connection, a website that, ironically, also reviewed “Fire at Midnight” and gave it an “above average” rating of 4/5 stars. Oh, I shouldn’t forget to mention the “one of the best books published in Chicago” accolade from Publish Chicago. In for a penny, in for a pound, since I’m so darned proud of myself, LOL.

I guess this post on my own blog is just an attempt to let off some steam, since the HKAS blog is locked down and I cannot post a comment there. Thank you for indulging me, and (I hope) laughing along with me.

Lisa Marie


Malleus said...

You could have sent your comment to the email displayed on the first page. That is if you had something to say. Maybe you didn't and preferred to moan here pretending you were muzzled elsewhere.

>Pity the poor fool (me) who
>happened to note that my book had
>received a 5-star review from HK
Touching innocence! Ah, you "happened to note", how charming. And how did HK get your book, may I ask? You write this as if she was just another reader who bought the book on Amazon and then reviewed it... the truth, I bet, is, you or your publisher sent her a freebie copy (and maybe paid her too, who knows, after all, why would she write these mega-zillions of fake reviews if she wasn't compensated?) knowing full well that she gives five-star reviews for a living.

Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

Actually, I did send the following response dated March 24 to, which was where my reply on your site was directed:

"I just came across the "Lisa Marie Wilkinson is very proud of herself" post on the Harriet Klausner Appreciation Society" site, and after I had a good laugh, I realized now obnoxious I must seem!

Please cut me some slack...I'm a debut author trying to get the word out about my new novel. The Klausner review was one of the first I received. I am happy when anyone reads my book and likes it, I'm not proud.

In its unpublished form, "Fire at Midnight" had a good run on the RWA contest circuit, so it seemed like a good idea to include some of the accolades, but I can see I've come across as a preening, conceited nutcase. I'm really not so proud of myself...just trying to call attention to a book I've written.

But, thank you for making me laugh at myself.

Lisa Marie Wilkinson"

Malleus, you're correct that my publisher sent the book out for reviews. I'm a new author and I've learned quite a bit in the months since my novel was released. I don't understand your hostility toward me...I have done nothing to earn your enmity other than quote a reviewer you scorn, which is certainly your right. As I said in my original reply which never received a response, cut me some slack, will you?

Malleus said...

If you had sent it, we would have received it :-) , yet we didn't (we'll leave it at that, I guess). I am certainly willing to cut you some slack, and I got nothing against you or your book, lots of luck with it; but please understand that your situation is not unique: online shilling is a massive phenomenon.

Now, about enmity: whether you are part of it or, as a beginning author, not (yet), it's obvious that the industry engages in decepton on a massive scale. The industry tries to rip off the customers. This is theft. Does this deserve a bit of enmity in response? I mean, Harriet Klausner has been reviewing multiple books DAILY since November 1999 and she always gives a positive rating. Her reviews are not reviews but plot summaries, disjointed, ungrammatical, and full of FACTUAL errors, iow, she doesn't know what she's talking about (because she doesn't read those books). Why ask this brazen fraudster to review anything? Well, probably because you guys hope a positive review, no matter how fake, will sell your books.

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